How to Build a Raised Bed Step-by-Step

How to Build a Raised Bed—From 4x4 and Larger

May 3, 2018

With just a few materials, we will show you how to build a simple 4 x 4-foot raised bed for your garden. No prior DIY skills required! We hope this demonstration is helpful. Full text provided.

Raised beds have many benefits for growing vegetables, especially if your soil is poor or badly drained. And they’re easy to make with a minimum of tools.

This raised bed is a 4 x 4 size.  However, you can certainly substitute a different width of wooden plank if you wish to make the bed higher

  • In our opinion, a 4 x 4 bed needs a minimum depth of 6 inches of soil and is best used to grow salad crops, small onions, and shallow-rooted vegetables. Many people use 4 x 4 raised beds primarily for the crops near the house which are often salads. Most Square Foot Garden raised beds are 6 inches deep. You can certainly grow a huge range of vegetables in 6-inch deep beds, especially if the potting mix is good.
  • For a few crops, 8 to 12 inches of soil depth is better. This would include carrots, parsnips, asparagus, tomatoes, and squash. So you wish to grow these deep-rooted vegetables, you might want to either prepare the ground soil underneath (make sure the soil is loosened) or make a higher bed so that it is 10 to 12 inches high or more.  With shallow-rooted vegetables, a foot of soil may be wasteful so you may even want to consider separate beds.

Prepare Your Growing Area

Prepare the ground by laying cardboard over the area you wish to use for your bed. This will help to suppress any grass or weeds beneath.

Remove any tape, staples or other non-biodegradable materials from the cardboard first. Spread your cardboard all over the growing area, including any paths. Overlap the cardboard by about 6 inches to prevent weeds from squeezing up between them.

Note: When using cardboard over grass, that will soon decompose so that you’re left with plenty of soil for the roots to access lower down. However, if you’re planting immediately, a cardboard layer may affect your plants’ ability to reach down into the soil, so consider your depth requirement.

Make Your Raised Bed

For a 4 x 4-foot raised bed, we’re sawing two 8 feet long planks in half to make a square bed that is 4 feet long on each side. Making a bed this size means you can reach into the center from all sides so you never need to tread on the soil and compact it.

Drill two pilot holes in one end of each plank to make it easier to screw the walls together. Use a drill bit slightly little thinner than the screws you’ll be using. Each plank will overlap the next and will screw into the end of the end of the plank it overlaps.

Using long screws, screw the walls of your raised bed together securely.

Filling Your Raised Bed

Using garden compost in your raised bed will insure a nutrient-rich, moisture-retentive growing medium that plants love.

If the compost is lumpy and not fully decomposed, you may wish to top it with enriched topsoil specially formulated for vegetable gardening so you can start sowing and planting immediately.

Paths between beds can be covered with bark chippings on top of the cardboard, or alternatively, cut away excess cardboard from around the raised bed.

Enjoy these tips! Plan out your garden crops with our Almanac Garden Planner. Free for 7 days!


Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Raised Bed Plantings

In the past two years, I had help putting raised beds in my old garden made of concrete blocks. I also put cardboard on the bottom but also added old cut wood that will decompose over time. I also added some pruned branches from my fruit trees. Then I added horse manure which was all I could get at the time and then added really good garden soil. Last year I planted tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. I froze the broccoli, made sauerkraut, canned tomatoes and just ate the Brussels sprouts. After the cabbage was harvested, I planted some green beans and they were delicious eaten fresh.

Permanent Raised Bed Option

After having to replace our latest raised bed after 6 years (wood rotted) I was looking for a more permanent option, since we are in our later 60's and not sure what health we'd be in in another 6 years. Answer . . . 48" PVC culvert, cut into 2 foot high rounds. The black PVC warms the soil quite early in the spring, and will hopefully extend our growing season a few more days. ANY type of raised bed garden is 200% more productive than flat land gardening! I've been a raised bed gardener for over 20 years and tout the benefits of raised bed gardening all the time!

Permanent raised beds

Wow thank you for the brilliant idea!


Just curious, do weeds blow in or are they carried in by birds?

do weeds blow in or are they carried in by birds

weeds seeds get into your garden by both methods. the wind blows them in.. for example the dandelion seed.. and birds drop all sorts of seeds when they fly over your garden

Awesome Directions Raised Garden

Thank you for sharing, very good video. Your co-worker is amazing, really great at gardening, a natural, well done!

Ah, thanks so much for the

Ah, thanks so much for the kind comment. She is my second in command in the garden, though often orders me about!

raised beds

We have another raised bed this year for corn. It is 8x4' and we put three rows of corn with 12 plants in each row. Last year we put a raised bed for tomatoes. It is 18"x9' and holds 12 plants. With the tomatoes are marigolds. With the corn are white geraniums, one at each corner. We will plant squash in with the corn very soon and pole beans as well to give us three companion crops in the larger raised bed. We're new at this and your videos help a lot.

Raised beds

Very helpful and easy tutorial. Thanks for the tips

Raised Beds

I have a very large garden and have used raised beds for awhile now. Although I don't screw mine together anymore, I REALLY like your way of attaching the sides together! My goodness, some plans take up 1/2 a day or more and require much better building skills than I will ever have. I like that this bed would be easy to take apart if you use untreated wood bc it will rot in about 5-7 years. I also like the cardboard. Gardeners should realize that people are always getting goods delivered in cardboard and you can find it everywhere free. I live on 5 acres (4 for the horses) and I have to kill volunteer trees all of the time. I have discovered that you dig down 4 inches, saw off the saplings, then cover with cardboard, then cover with soil. Kills them without any herbicides.


Sign up for our email newsletter by entering your email address.

BONUS: You’ll also receive our Almanac Companion newsletter!

The Almanac Webcam

Chosen for You from The Old Farmer's Store